Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 12 December 2019

UAE awaits US regulator's review before allowing Boeing 737 Max to fly

Boeing expects its 737 Max to resume commercial service in January

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max aircraft parked at Southern California Logistics Airport. Boeing on Monday said it expects its grounded Max jets to resume flying in January. AFP
Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max aircraft parked at Southern California Logistics Airport. Boeing on Monday said it expects its grounded Max jets to resume flying in January. AFP

The UAE aviation regulator will decide on the grounded Boeing 737 Max's return to commercial service based on the US review of the grounded jet, after Boeing said it expects the Max to fly in January.

The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA)'s decision on the Max airworthiness will rely on the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)'s assessment of the 737 Max redesigned software and updated training material for pilots, the regulator said in a statement to The National.

“The GCAA is working with the FAA on the certification of B737Max and is in close coordination with flydubai," the authority said. "The GCAA return-to-service [decision] will be based on the review of FAA design certification and validation of training."

Boeing this week provided more details on the steps it must complete with the FAA before the Max returns to service. The US plane maker expects FAA certification of the Max this quarter and commercial service to resume in January, after Max deliveries to airlines begin in December.

The GCAA declined to provide a date for the Max's return to the skies.

"It is not possible now to provide a specific date," it said. "The safety of [the] travelling public is of utmost importance for the GCAA, which will be in the forefront of the decision-making leading to return of service of the B737Max.”

The best-selling narrowbody jet has been grounded since March after two crashes that killed 346 people. An Ethiopian Airlines plane on March 10 plummeted to the ground minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa. A Lion Air jet crashed into the Java Sea off the coast of Indonesia in October 2018.

The GCAA chief earlier this year said the authority would conduct its own safety checks in conjunction with the FAA assessment.

Flydubai, the only UAE operator of the 737 Max, is the second-biggest customer of the jet globally after Southwest Airlines, with an order of 250 aircraft.

"Flydubai is aware of the update from Boeing," an airline spokeswoman said. "We continue to work with our regulator, the GCAA, on the return to service of the MAX aircraft. This includes timelines, the requirements for certification of the aircraft and training."

Boeing's 737 Max sales shrank in October after a major customer converted some of its order of the narrowbody jet to the Boeing 787 widebody.

Updated: November 13, 2019 04:45 PM

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